Fire at Brea Lu Construction Site

A fire broke out last night in Westbrook at the construction site for the new Brea Lu Cafe (websitefacebookinstagram) . The fire centered in the back right part of the building which will likely need to be replaced or removed, and it destroyed the newly delivered hood and walk-in.

Owner Christian DeLuca has been in the process of building out a new larger cafe at the 511 Main Street site. The cafe was originally located in Portland and moved to Westbrook after a fire damaged the building they were in on Forest Ave.

Bev’s Cafe and Market

Bev’s Cafe & Market (instagram) is under construction at 41 Main Street in Kennebunk in the space formerly occupied by Christian’s.

The 40-seat cafe is being launched by chefs Nate Norris and Annie Callan. The couple moved here from San Francisco where they both worked at the famed Zuni Cafe. Callan was the pastry chef and Norris was the executive chef and a nearly 20-year member of the Zuni Cafe team.

Callan and Norris hope to open Bev’s this June when they’re promising a “casual cafe focused on excellent food and hospitality” serving breakfast, lunch and prepared food to go.

Our guests can expect a focused menu for counter service and takeaway breakfast and lunch. Breakfast will include egg sandwiches, granola, oatmeal, and pastries. Lunch will include hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soups, and daily specials. Limited prepared foods will be available to help make a delicious weeknight dinner at home simple.

We will cook the only way we know, making dishes that are comforting and familiar, guided by the best local ingredients in close partnership with New England farmers, ranchers, and other artisanal producers.

Bev’s will serve beer and wine as well as Tandem Coffee and teas from the Rare Tea Company.

To get caught up on all the new restaurants under development visit our Under Construction List.

Novel Book & Bar

The Portland Phoenix has published an article about Novel Book & Bar, a new book-centered establishment under construction near Longfellow Square.

Whether you’re an avid reader or a bar scene enthusiast, there’s something for you in Portland.

At least, that’s how the owners of Novel Book & Bar, a soon-opening Congress Street joint, read the situation. Portland is home to plenty of great restaurants and bar scenes, but almost all cater directly to the food and drink. What’s missing is a more intellectual space to congregate where books are the focus.

2023 Beard Awards Nominees

This year’s James Beard Foundation Awards list of restaurant and chef nominees were announced this morning.

Of the 11 Maine semifinalistsThe Quarry in Monson has earned a spot as a final nominee in the Outstanding Hospitality category. Congratulations to chef/owner Marilou Ranta and her team!

After a final round of evaluation and voting, this year’s Beard Awards winners will be announced on Monday June 5th in Chicago.

Related information:

Rwanda Bean Closing Thompson’s Point Cafe

Rwanda Bean (websitefacebookinstagram) has announced plans to close their cafe on Thompson’s point as of the end of April. They will continue to operate their coffee roasting, packaging and wholesale operations out of their space on Thompson’s Point and also plan to make it available as an event space.

In order to further drive growth and stability for Rwanda Bean and to continue to deliver on our mission to support the community of Rwanda coffee farmers by sharing their harvests with the wider world, we are going to focus exclusively on our roastery operations, production and wholesaling out of our Thompson’s Point location. As of May 1, we will wrap up our retail presence and the Thompson’s Point event team will take over our event and kitchen area as an additional venue offering.

The Rwanda Bean coffee shop on Stevens Ave will be gradually expanding their hours of operation to 7 days per week with expanded menu offerings.

Brea Lu Cafe Moving to 511 Main Street

Brea Lu Cafe (websitefacebookinstagram) had planned to move from their current spot to 100 Larrabee Road, but that location fell through earlier this year. Owner Christian DeLuca has now leased a large space at 511 Main Street in Westbrook which he is building out into a new home for his popular breakfast and lunch spot.

DeLuca plans to launch with a menu that includes classic dishes served when Brea Lu was in its longtime home on Forest Ave in Portland. The new dining room will seat 100 people—up from 44 at their current location—and there will be seasonal outdoor seating as well. The kitchen will double in size, and DeLuca hopes to eventually add an in-house bakery. The cafe is also slated to have a private room for events and meetings that will seat 30+ people.

Construction on the site is already underway. DeLuca will be closing down Brea Lu on Cumberland Street on at the end of April and hopes to reopen at the Maine Street location in early June. Brea Lu will be expanding its hours to stay open until 2 pm, and will be available in the evenings for events, pop-ups, and for use by food trucks.

Logan Abbey the owner of the George’s North Shore food truck is taking over the current Brea Lu building where he plans to open a restaurant called George + Leon’s Famous Roast Beef.

Update: A fire broke out at the construction site and will likely delay the launch of the new cafe.

To get caught up on all the new restaurants under development visit our Under Construction List.

4 Re/Openings

Full Turn (websiteinstagram) just completed a kitchen expansion and reopened Friday night with their latest menu theme. This time around the concept is Italian Sunday Dinner. They’re located in East Bayside in the former Baharat location, and are open Thursday through Saturday  4 – 9 pm.

Thai Esaan (facebookinstagram) opened on Saturday at their new location on Portland Street in the former Back Bay Grill building. Their hours are 11am to 9 pm, Tuesday through Sunday. See photos below for a look at their menu and the Krah Pow Moo Grob (crispy pork, spicy Thai basil, green beans, onions, red pepper with rice) dish.

The bar Room for Improvement (instagram) will be open to the public on Thursday, April 13th. Owners Arvid Brown and Nick Coffin have completely renovated 41 Wharf Street into a 36-seat venue with bar along the left wall, circular booths along the right and additional seating out back. The hours of operation will initially be Thursday through Monday, 5 pm to 1 am.

The well-loved bar Maps (instagram) on Market Street has been closed since the start of the year. The space has undergone a extenive renovation in the last few months and is slated to open this Thursday at 5 pm. Their regular hours of operation will be Tuesday and Wednesday 4 pm to midnight, and Thursday through Saturday 4 pm  1 am.

Every week there’s word of some new business under development. To get caught up visit our Under Construction List.

Upcoming Events

March 27Batson River in Portland is hosting ChopTails bartender competition featuring Rob Roy from Primo,  Jake Bosma from Cocktail Mary, LyAnna Sanabria from Papi, Sylvi Roy from Twelve, and Bailey White from The Danforth.

March 29 – the James Beard Foundation will release the list of nominees for this year’s awards. There are 11 semifinalists from Maine under consideration.

March 30Maps (instagram) on Market Street is scheduled to reopen after completing an extensive renovation.

April 3Scratch Baking is teaching a bagel baking class.

April 4Roma is holding a Central Italian wine dinner.

April 12Evo is serving a 5-course Italian wine dinner.

April 13Room for Improvement (instagram) will be opening.

April 16Turamali will be serving two seatings of an 8-course Mexican dinner at the Knotted Apron (tickets go on sale on March 24th).

April 17 – there will be a meeting of the Portland Restaurant Sustainability Council.

April 18Avery Yale Kamila will be giving a talk on the 300 year history of vegetarianism in Maine in Buxton.

April 20 – The April Fun With Ferments meet-up is taking place at Mast Landing.

April 20-22 – chef Johnny Spero from the Michelin-starred Reverie in Washington DC will be serving a 9-course dinner at Hugo’s.

April 21 – The Good Food Awards will take place, there are 12 finalists from Maine in the running this year.

May 20Maine Wild Wine Fest is taking place in Freeport.

June 12-18Portland Wine Week is taking place with events at restaurants all over the Portland area.

July 23Open Farm Day.

August 23 – an Outstanding in the Field dinner is taking place at Dandelion Spring Farm. Tickets go on sale March 20th.

September 10Maine Cheese Festival.

October 8Maine Open Creamery Day.

Cuppa Jo’s in Yarmouth

A new cafe called Cuppa Jo’s (instagram) is under construction at 305 Route 1 in Yarmouth. It’s located in the same building at Otto Pizza.

Owner Jo Miller plans to serve espresso-based and brewed coffee as well as teas from Marriage des Freres. as well as “pastries, sandwiches, soups and more!” Cuppa Jo’s will be roasting their own coffee.

Miller hopes to open Cuppa Jo’s on April 10th and be open 6 am to 2 pm daily.

Review of Taco Trio

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published a review of Taco Trio.

Owner and original chef Manny Peña’s family recipes still form the basis for most of the menu’s dishes, like puffy sopes, soft tacos and well-balanced aguas frescas (cantaloupe and hibiscus, in particular). In its new home, Taco Trio makes more of a feature of its Mexican liquors without losing a step in the kitchen. The space can get noisy on weekends, but takeout meals are nearly as good as dine-in meals at Taco Trio. Just down that Tequila Honey Bee before you head home with your designated driver.